Billiards, pool and snooker –
an erratic history
Cue based games have a very long history, and are believed to have started in France and Britain in the 1500s. This page is going to take an idiosyncratic look at some of the interesting stories associated with these games. It might also be a good idea to mention right at the beginning that billiards is mentioned by Shakespeare in Anthony and Cleopatra, where Cleo herself says "Let's to billiards." So, let's to the stories around these games...
Games are constantly evolving and being transformed, now poker can be played on the internet at sites like Party Poker and the same goes for Billiards. All billiards are thought to have their origin in 'ground billiards' or Trucco, a game played on lawns a bit like croquet. Since then three main types of billiard or cue sports have evolved: Carom billiards are played on tables without any pockets, pool or pocket billiards is the most popular game in the USA and Canada and bars worldwide, and finally snooker, which is most popular in the UK, Europe, Australia and now China where it the third most popular sport after basketball and table tennis.
It's probably fair to say that Carom billiards is the least popular of the various cue games, but it is also the most historically important. Carom Billiard games are played on tables with no pockets, it is this game that most table billiard games are thought to originate.
One of the most interesting stories in billiard games is the invention of snooker. Snooker is said to have been invented in India in the mid-1870s, by an officer in the British army called Neville Chamberlain. Ordinary pool, as we play in the United States, was being played in the officer's mess and he decided to add a few extra colored balls. Chamberlain was then sent to serve in Afghanistan, where he got shot at the Battle of Kandahar, luckily he recovered and went on to his next posting to South India. There he served alongside the great General Roberts who saw his new invention which lead to its spread through the British Empire. The name snooker came from the name given to junior officers at his military academy.
Eight-ball Pool is the internationally popular variety of cue sports and was invented in the first decade of the Twentieth Century. Four-ball pool was the most popular game played in the US until then, although there were other varieties, including 15-ball pool. Now Nine-ball and even Ten-Ball are gaining in acceptance in many venues in the U.S. and the world.
Pool has reached great heights of popularity in the US and popular players even featured on cigarette cards, magazines and commercials.